By Joan Girkins and Julianna Dotten
What credits are needed to graduate high school? How can I make sure my student will be academically prepared for whatever his future holds? They’re questions that every homeschool parent asks, but there is no one-size-fits all answer.
And that’s the beauty of it.
With the flexibility of homeschooling comes the freedom to tailor your academic plan to fit exactly what your student needs. In other words, it’s time for us to stop asking “does my student need this for college?” or “what do the public schools cover?” Instead, homeschooling through high school gives us the incredible opportunity to enable our children to reach their full academic potential.
When we’re sitting down with our student to create their high school plan, the question is not “college or no college?” It’s “how can we best utilize your God-given gifts to prepare you for whatever God may have in your future?” Each child’s gifting and abilities may look completely different. But that’s the beauty of being a homeschool parent — we don’t have to try to fit a square peg in a round hole. Instead, we can look back and have the confidence that we’ve encouraged — and maybe even pushed — our students in a way that will prepare them for whatever God brings in front of them.
This outlook offers amazing freedom. After all, what fourteen-year-old knows for sure what career — or even degree, for that matter — he wants to pursue? The reality is, things change. But if you’ve set out in the high school journey with the goal of giving your student the well-rounded education that best fits his needs, he’ll be ready when the time comes to make those post-graduation decisions.
As you embark on this amazing adventure of preparing your student for life, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- High school is the best time to help your student set his or her own goals. Here’s the reality: your student is probably anxious to be independent, but not sure where to start. That’s where a planner, like this College Admission Planner, comes in. It’s an excellent tool that offers a timeline from freshman year to graduation, complete with a personalized transcript tracker (with how-to videos) and record-keeping tools and most importantly, a blow-by-blow outline of everything you need to think about if your student is considering college. But most importantly, it serves as a conversation starter with your student, a secondary source to remind them of the importance of grades and planning ahead, and a clear-cut way your student can begin to take charge of his or her own education. As one mom who used it reported, “my son just took over the planner!”
- There are countless opportunities available for homeschoolers. The battle for colleges accepting homeschoolers has already been fought, and now colleges (and companies) are actively recruiting homeschoolers. That means you no longer have to try to fit your student’s high school years into future college plans. Instead, you can focus on discovering how God has uniquely gifted your student, and then from there determine a path for the future.
- Finally, it’s never too early to start planning for post-graduation, especially if you think that might entail college. In fact, it’s best to start making plans freshman year! The PSAT, which enters your student into the National Merit Scholarship, is normally taken junior year, but you’ll want to start thinking about preparation, or even taking the exam itself (many students also take it earlier for practice). In addition, the highest financial scholarships are typically purely based on ACT/SAT scores and GPA, and many of them you can qualify for as early as your junior year. Thinking through these details early on, including strategies for paying for college, will not only relieve pressure later on but also open up so many more opportunities. Once again, I’d highly recommend the College Admissions Planner for more details on free study tools for the college entrance exams, scholarship suggestions, and guides for discussing these key issues with your student — all broken down into a clear-cut timeframe over your student’s high school years. Plus, if you’re looking for more detailed planners for your specific situation, you may also want to check out the Classical Conversations Plus Planner or the Colorado School of Mines Planner.
In the end, there is no better discipleship opportunity than homeschooling high school. Just think, you get to be the key player in helping your student through this time of transition into adulthood. And often, some of the best opportunities for speaking into your teenager’s life come when you’re discussing the future. Whether you’re just entering the high school journey or are part-way through, why not take this opportunity to sit down and team up to help your student reach his or her God-given potential?
About the Authors: Julianna Dotten and Joan Girkins
 The Colorado Law allows parents to determine graduation requirements and issue the diploma. When setting the requirements, you’ll want to keep in mind what a college or career field will want to see on a transcript.
Note: If your student is considering a technical or trade school, consider joining the CHEC Independent School or another umbrella school. A letter from an independent school that your student is enrolled and compliant with all policies can be very beneficial to getting entrance into these programs.